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Facebook Oversight Board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks'

Facebook Oversight Board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks'
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Facebook's Oversight Board said Friday it will announce its decision on whether to ban or reinstate former President Trump's account in the "coming weeks." 

Trump was suspended from the platform in January, shortly before he left office, after posts he made regarding the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol were taken down. 

Facebook referred the case to the Oversight Board on Jan. 21. The board typically makes a decision within 90 days, according to the process laid out on its website, meaning the decision was expected to be announced next week. 

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In the Friday update, the Oversight Board noted it had extended the public comments deadline for the case weighing Trump's ban and received more than 9,000 responses. 

"The Board’s commitment to carefully reviewing all comments has extended the case timeline, in line with the Board’s bylaws. We will share more information soon," the board tweeted. 

The board's decision could have implications beyond Trump's future on the platform.

Facebook requested the board's recommendation on suspensions when the user is a political leader, meaning the board's decision on Trump could influence how Facebook handles bans on future leaders in the U.S. and around the world.

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Facebook has committed to following all the board’s rulings in terms of content removal. But the company has not committed to implementing all policy recommendations related to the ruling, so the board’s recommendations on other world leaders may not be adopted by Facebook. 

Facebook’s critics have already slammed the process ahead of the Oversight Board’s ruling. 

Members of the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of tech advocates that formed after the launch of the independent oversight body, have called it an arbitrary process that will not address the root concerns.

Members have also said the process will be skewed by how Facebook referred the decision to the board, citing two of Trump’s posts that were taken down after the riot before his suspension as opposed to his account as a whole.

The advocates submitted a public comment to the Oversight Board on the case, warning that reinstating Trump is an "invitation to violence, hate and disinformation that will cost lives and undermine democracy."

Unlike Facebook’s drawn-out decision, Twitter permanently banned Trump from its platform after removing similar posts to those in question by the Oversight Board.

Twitter, once Trump’s most frequently used platform, doubled down on the permanency of its ban in February with the company’s chief financial officer, Ned Segal, saying the ban is permanent even if Trump runs for president again in 2024.

Updated at 10:47 a.m.